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40 Day Challenge

This is posted on the metabolic blog, but is for anyone that wants to eat cleaner, have a mental and/or physical challenge and reset their taste buds and eating habits.  You may find one, a few or many of the following benefits from the challenge:

·         Reduced cravings for sugars and carbs.

·         Less joint pain from the less inflammation.

·         Better sleep.

·         More energy, less fatigue.

·         Weight loss is not the goal of the challenge, but if your body feels like it needs it, you may lose weight.

·         Find out if you might have a dairy or gluten allergy or sensitivity.

·         Bloating or constipation relief.


I am using February 14 as a start date, but you can start on the 15 or any day you want.  I picked the 14th because it is the first day of Lent.  I picked Lent for two reasons.  First, Lent is about six weeks which is a good amount of time for your taste buds to reset, for reducing or eliminating sugar cravings, for you to find out if you might have a gluten or dairy sensitivity or allergy, for you to see if this new way of eating makes you feel better and it is a good amount of time for you to form new habits.  The second reason is for some of us, making a Lenten commitment can help us stick to the challenge.  You don’t need to belong to a religion that follows Lent to do the 40-day challenge and you won’t get cast into the desert either.


This is a design-your-own 40-day challenge.  You can pick any or many of the pieces below for your challenge.  You could even do a combination where you will cut out gluten for two weeks, dairy for two weeks and alcohol for two weeks.  You could abstain from one or some of these but partake at Sunday dinner.  These are just some ideas.


You could put together a metabolic challenge and do no added sugars, no wheat products, limited tropical fruits and limited starchy vegetables.


What is challenging for one person may be a different challenge for someone else.  When I was drinking large volumes of Diet Coke, cutting out Diet Coke for 40 days was a big challenge for me without adding any other restrictions.  For some that do some of these now, you may need to add a few to make it a challenge.


Outline ideas:

·         No wheat products

·         No flour substitutes

·         No sugars

·         No artificial sweeteners

·         No alcohol

·         No dairy

·         Limited starchy vegetables

·         Limited tropical fruits and grapes

·         One, two or five days a week without meat

·         Movement 6 days a week


As a design-your-own challenge, you can define your outline how you want, but below is how I defined them.


No wheat products mean anything made with flour like bread, tortillas, pasta and cake, but also includes many packaged sauces. 


No flour substitutes such as almond flour, etc.  So, basically no gluten free tortillas, breads or pizza crusts unless they are made from cauliflower.


No artificial sweeteners include the usuals such as aspartame and but also includes stevia and monk fruit and sugar alcohols.


No dairy is self-explanatory.  Nothing that is made from cow or goat milk.  Ghee or coconut oil can be substituted for butter.  Ghee is made from diary, but the milk solids and proteins are clarified out.


Limited starchy vegetables mean a limit of one serving of potatoes, corn, peas, etc. per meal. My suggestion is to not measure and just to be reasonable on a serving.  When it comes to potatoes, it should be a side, not one of these potatoes it takes two people to lift.  This doesn’t mean you are required to have a starchy vegetable.  It would be a good idea refrain from starchy vegetables for at least one meal a day.


Sugar is hidden in labels with many different names.  You will probably need to do some label reading.  Anything with syrup, most things that end in “ous”.  Better yet is to prepare and cook your own food.  Then you know what is in it.  You may need to look up some new recipes.  We will be providing recipes at the beginning and as we go.  We will also encourage the sharing of food ideas and recipes.  Anything at a restaurant with the word glaze is probably made with a lot of sugar.


Depending on what you do, you may be cutting out a lot of foods you probably used to eat, so make sure to replace them and eat enough.  This isn’t necessarily a weight loss plan.  The idea is to eat natural foods and have your body find its natural appetite and natural metabolism.  If your body thinks it could be thinner and you drop some weight by eating more natural foods, then that is just fine.   


Get a group.

You can do this on your own, but the support of a group is powerful.  If you start out on your own, you will always have us as a group here if you want.  You will be able to sign up as a member anytime you want (information on how to do that below) or use the comments.


You can enlist one, two or six friends or family members to join you.  Get a neighbor or co-worker or two or six to join you.



Do some thinking about what you want to do.  Write or print it out and put it somewhere you see it.  You can cut and paste the outline ideas above onto a word document then delete and change as you will.

Use a week or even two to clean out your kitchen, workspace and wherever you may stash snacks.  Clean out items that are not on your list wherever possible.  Give them to a neighbor or co-worker (if you haven’t been able to talk them into going on the challenge).  You don’t want them around while you are on the challenge, and you don’t want them when you are finished.  Guests can have healthy, clean food when they come to visit.  Assemble some of the food ideas and recipes that look good to you and even try a few.  If you are not already a member, go to my website and become a member.  Members can send encouragement, recipes, things that work and don’t work for them that may help other members.  To sign up as a member, go to, click on log in, sign up with email, enter email, pick a password. 


A note to people that are insulin resistant, pre-diabetic and diabetic:  limit grains and starchy vegetables or know what these grains and vegetables do to your blood glucose levels.  The same is true for tropical fruits and grapes. Tropical fruits include fruits such as mangos, pineapples, bananas.


Food ideas and recipes.

That is a lot of food we can’t eat.  What can we eat? Think about the whole list of good quality meats (if you eat meat), eggs, vegetables, fruits, and grains.  Make oatmeal and add nuts, nut butter, seeds, berries, whatever you like.  For dinner, add a spice rub to salmon and roast or sauté vegetables.  Use spice blends to season vegetables or add some balsamic vinegar.  Have you had chia seed pudding?  If not, I think you are going to like that one. I have included that on the recipe list.


Meal plans.

I am not a fan of meal plans.  I don’t see anybody staying on a “meal plan” for the rest of their life.  I do like the idea of looking at a list of breakfast recipes and selecting a few for an easy way to start the day.  Same for lunch and dinner. I am encouraging people to go on a 40-day challenge.  Do I really expect anybody to stay on that for the rest of their lives?  Nowadays, they have so many dairy substitutes.  They “milk’ milk out of all kinds of grains and nuts.  Heck, they look at you sideways at Starbucks if you don’t order some kind of alternative milk product.  But really, the rest of your life without bread or sugar?  I am not suggesting that.  The challenge is to reset your taste buds and show you that you can eat a lot less or no…sugar drinks or diet drinks or bread and processed flour and you can have sugar in small amounts for special occasions.  Once your taste buds are not so ‘sugar-fide’, berries and carrots will taste sweet.


What to do at the end of the challenge:

·         Ease back into it.  Sugar and carb cravings can come back with a vengeance if you don’t go easy.  You will have worked very hard to ease them.

·         If you feel better than when you started, it may be from eliminating either dairy, gluten, or both.  Pick one of the two to add back in for two weeks.  If you don’t experience any return of adverse symptoms, then try the other.  If you add one in and you get fatigued, sore joints or any other symptom then you have a decision to make.


You can decide how you want to move forward. 

·         You may want to have wine on Fridays, desserts on Sundays and the occasional bread when out at a restaurant.

·         You may want to cut out dairy and cut way back on sugar because eliminating those made you feel better.

·         You get to decide.  As my son says, “You be you”.


I love this idea AND I did the 75 Hard Challenge. It was difficult at first - but after awhile, it became more of a way of life. I am going to do it again soon!


I am going to start my 40 day challenge tomorrow with the following:

No added sugars

No artificial sweeteners

No alcohol

Limited starchy vegetables

Limited tropical fruits and grapes

Two days a weeks without meat

Intentional movement 6 days a week

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